A Dog’s Journey

A Dog’s Journey


A dog finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he meets.

Dove Review

A Dog’s Journey is for animal lovers and people everywhere who love a good story. Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and his wife Hannah (Marg Helgenberger) are helping raise their granddaughter C.J. after their son has passed away. C.J. and her mother, Gloria (Betty Gilpin), live with them. But despite Ethan’s love for his dog Bailey and he and Hannah’s showering their beautiful granddaughter with love and attention, Gloria doesn’t like dogs or living with them. She has been vulnerable since her husband’s death, and she decides to take C. J. and leave, which breaks the hearts of Ethan and Hannah. They beg their daughter-in-law to stay but to no avail.

Jump ahead several years and C.J. is seen first as a young girl and next as a young woman (nicely portrayed by Kathryn Prescott), still living with her mother who is never home and who drinks a lot. If it weren’t for the friendship of Trent (Henry Lau) there wouldn’t be much of a spark in her life. And although Bailey has gone to that big dog house in the sky, he comes back as a female dog named Molly, and later as Big Dog, and still later as a cute little terrier named Max. He is always there to protect C.J. She knows she enjoys writing songs and singing, but not much else is gelling in her life. She goes through a couple of boyfriends, but she runs into her old chum Trent, who has just moved to New York after working in England for a while. Although neither one will admit it, C.J. and Trent have feelings for each other that go beyond friendship. As Max notes this, he thinks to himself, “Go on, lick each other’s faces!”

The intriguing thing about this movie is that it is not just a cute little movie. It actually features some dramatic themes such as C.J.’s mother being a poor mother with a drinking problem, and Trent coming down with cancer, losing his hair but never his hope. C.J. is there for him, to support him and care for him too. Ethan and Hannah try to see C.J. when she’s older but Gloria once again refuses and breaks their hearts a second time. The movie does have some humor laced here and there so as to not be overly dramatic. When C.J. takes in the dog, now known as Molly, the dog runs to C.J.’s room and immediately attacks a cat poster on the wall and brings it down!

Since believing in your abilities is important, we see a good example of this in the movie when Trent encourages C.J. to get past her stage fright and to sing in front of people, the thing he knows she’s meant to do. The love and affection of the dogs, with Bailey changing breeds, opens up humorous moments but also nicely displays the loyalty of dogs to their “families.” Will Ethan and Hannah ever see C.J. again? Will Gloria ever sober up and realize she’s been a bad mother? Will C.J. and Trent finally admit their feelings for each other? Will C.J. ever sing in front of people? You will have to watch the movie to see but the resolutions of the story are handled nicely.

Due to some mature scenes, such as C.J.’s first boyfriend, Shane, forcefully grabbing her and shaking her, and various other sophisticated themes including death and grief, we are awarding this film our Dove Seal for Ages 12+.

The Dove Take:

If you love a good story, good actors, and animals, not to mention some laughs, this charming movie is for you!

Content Description

Faith: A cross is seen above a couple's bed; the idea of heaven is portrayed.
Integrity: There are several characters who want to do the right thing and help others and take care of others that are hurting.
Sex: It's mentioned in passing that a woman lives with her boyfriend and a man lives with his girlfriend but no graphic scenes are featured; kissing between a few couples.
Violence: A young man, angry at a girl, grabs and shakes her; a man chases a girl's car with his truck, rams the truck, resulting in the car flipping over and her dog dies; a dog bites a young man's leg; a horse bucks and almost hits a dog and a girl with its legs.
Drugs: Several scenes of drinking; underage drinking and police arrest a few people; a woman is obviously drunk; bar scenes; the pouring of champagne and wine; the mention of beer; a dog is given a shot to euthanize it.
Nudity: A girl is seen in shorts.
Other: Death and grief for both a few animals and a human; tension and disagreements between characters; a mother yells a lot at her daughter and often leaves her home alone when she is a girl; the plot is based on a dog dying and always coming back as a new dog but it is played as a fantasy; dog flatulence; belching; dog urinates on man's shoe; dog poop is seen a few times.


Company: DreamWorks
Writer: W. Bruce Cameron; Maya Forbes
Director: Gail Mancuso
Producer: Luyuan Fan
Genre: Family
Runtime: 104 min.
Industry Rating: PG
Reviewer: Ed C.